Lyme Disease is one of those disabilities that everybody has heard of and nobody actually understands. The medical community has vigorous and heated debates about it, the symptoms are all over the map and mimic other conditions, symptoms come and go for no apparent reason, and you still have to deal with it.
How can you cope with a disability like Lyme Disease?
The More You Know…
Educating yourself about Lyme gives you the advantage of a larger perspective, just as understanding how your body works helps you see why eating nothing but candy is a bad idea. Don’t try to learn it all at once: join a couple of online support groups and subscribe to a few blogs or newsletters from different sides of the issue. Give yourself permission NOT to read them if you are having a bad day! The idea is to gradually learn about it so you can understand the big picture and explain the basics to others.
Adapt And Adopt…
One of the most confusing things about Lyme is the way it looks like so many other conditions. It’s like the bacteria attacks whatever is weakest in an individual so one sufferer might have extreme joint pain while another has heart issues and a third loses mental acuity. Your own symptoms will determine how to adapt your environment to meet your needs. This will probably entail a lot of experimentation and research on someone’s part so enlist volunteers where you can.
Think about how to have fewer things to clean or deal with. You might not have the energy to go through the piles, but do you have a friend who can do it for you? De-cluttering is always easier for somebody else to do, and the rewards are huge. (By the way, everybody dealing with a disabling condition has piles of stuff they didn’t have the energy to deal with. You are normal.) Keep the really important stuff. Have a dedicated spot for the finances and the medical paperwork that works for YOU.
Changing your environment to adapt to the challenges you now face is one way to cope with a disability. Another is to adopt some mindsets that help you cope productively. “Ignoring it will make it go away” is not productive, but “Write it on the list to do when I am able” is very productive if you go to that list on good days and do what you can. “I am a bad person because I am not in complete control” is counterproductive but “I am a human with limitations so I can’t control everything” helps you decide what to let go.
You Are Not Alone
When you think about it, Lyme Disease is like a random amplifier turning the volume up on weaknesses we share with the rest of humanity. Your experiences and the lessons you learn in coping with them are exactly what will help someone else facing similar challenges. It is a disease that needs to be talked about, because in many ways it is invisible. People can’t look at you and see that you are struggling with Lyme. If you need help, you have to ask for it! When you accept help from others, and reach out to help someone else, you are coping with Lyme Disease in the best way possible.
Matthew Wallace, MD advises physicians and business owners on how to incorporate sound financial planning principals into their busy lives and protect against the real threat of losing one’s income due to disability. Prior to entering the financial planning profession, for eight years Matthew practiced Family Medicine before being severely injured in an auto accident that left him unable to continue his medical career.
He lives in Orange County, CA and is married with three beautiful children. Matthew is an avid chess player, an aspiring chef and writes for his website www.doctordisability.com.